Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg

U.S. Warns of ‘Uncertain’ Future for Wind Amid Tax Credit Debate

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  • In 2016, wind power supplied 6 percent of U.S. electricity
  • American wind energy almost doubled from 2011 to 2016

America’s booming wind energy sector faces questions over its long-term growth prospects as federal incentives are scaled back amid weak natural gas prices and modest electricity demand, according to the Department of Energy.

The U.S. wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts of capacity in 2016, representing 27 percent of all energy additions, reports released by the department on Tuesday show. In 2016, wind supplied about 6 percent of U.S. electricity, with Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and California leading the way among individual states.

“At the same time, the prospects for growth beyond the current production tax credit cycle remain uncertain, given declining federal tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth,” the department said in a release.

Utilities have benefited from the credit, set to expire in the next few years, that’s helped wind energy become the cheapest new source of electricity in some markets. Meanwhile, Rick Perry, who heads up the energy department, has ordered a study into whether such tax credits that favor wind and solar are accelerating the closure of coal and nuclear plants.

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